Nook vs. Kindle: Sharing ebooks with others

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One of the features touted by Barnes & Noble about their new Nook ebook reader is that users can share ebooks with others. If I have an ebook, for example, that I loved and told you that you have to read it, I could send you that ebook via my Nook to your Nook, computer or mobile device with the B&N ebook software installed. The catch is that you can only ‘keep’ my ebook for 14 days (starting when you open the ebook) and during that time, I can’t read the ebook.

However, some are pointing out that the Amazon Kindle already has this sharing feature without the restrictions that Nook imposes. I knew this before, but didn’t think of it as a competitor with Nook until I read this Teleread post which was taken from this Dear Author post. The Kindle allows users to register up to six devices on one account. Ebooks can be shared freely, without restriction, among those six devices.

That sounds great, right? I don’t think it does and here’s why. The key is that the 6 Kindles must be registered to one account (credit card information and all). I don’t see a lot of friends sharing one account simply to share a few ebooks. Sharing among family might be a more realistic.

Nook, on the other hand, lets you share any ebook for two weeks to anyone with a Nook or the free B&N software on a mobile device or computer. The 14 days does not begin until the person ‘borrowing’ the ebook actually begins reading it. This does not require sharing an account and does not limit you to only 6 other users.

Is Nook perfect in regard to sharing? No it’s not. But I think B&N is heading down the right path. The biggest reason why sharing ebooks isn’t easier is because of the publishers. The Kindle isn’t perfect in this regard either. And as the Teleread post points out, Amazon keeps this sharing feature a little hush so publishers don’t get too nervous. I’ve also heard rumblings that publishers might disable the sharing feature for Nook on certain titles.

In an ideal world I’d like to see ebooks be freely shared among all devices – just like you can do with print books. For now, we’re going to have to take what we can get and hope publishers realize the best way to prevent piracy of ebooks is to make them more widely available.

Who do you think has the better ebook sharing feature: Amazon or Barnes & Noble? Leave a comment and share your answer.

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